Transforming an unloved room into a contemporary, adults-only space

Transforming An Unloved Room Into A Contemporary, Adults-Only Space Transforming An Unloved Room Into A Contemporary, Adults-Only Space
Alannah Monks takes five on her DFS sofa from the Halo Luxe range in her newly decorated, adults-only living room. Photos: Philip Lauterbach
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Interiors stylist Alannah Monks has revamped an underused room with some beautiful pieces from DFS’ Halo Luxe range

It’s safe to say the past 15 months have brought new meaning to the concept of staycations. From working at home to weekly Zoom quizzes, we’ve had to adapt and accommodate every element of our personal and professional lives within the same four walls.

The pandemic has also afforded many of us the opportunity to reassess the functionality of our homes, and improve and upgrade our spaces accordingly. For interiors stylist (find her on Instagram @theabodestylist) and mum of two Alannah Monks, this has equated to turning a previously unloved junk room used to store work props and equipment, into a stylish adult-only space.

Monks lives in Naul in north county Dublin with husband Patrick, daughters Rose, aged 12, and seven-year-old Alice as well as three canine companions.


“When the girls were small everyone was sitting in the one room and we were constantly together, but as they’ve got older they want their own space,” she says of her decision to create a new room for herself and Patrick.

“Originally we only had one sitting room but the girls have claimed that as their own, and that’s where they hang out and have their sleepovers with their friends. So that was the big incentive to do the second sitting room, because we needed our own space.”

With a background in fashion, Monks has always had a creative mindset, but it wasn’t until she set about building her house from scratch a decade ago that her passion for design came to the fore.

Alannah's Dublin home is a welcoming and stylish retreat

She admits that as the couple built the house in a rush to escape the “rat race” of the Dublin rental market and provide a permanent home for their growing family, mistakes were made.

The house is constantly changing just from me wanting to have a creative outlet, it’s like a canvas

Her appetite for DIY projects and eye for eclectic fixtures and furnishings has rung the changes on the house in recent years, garnered her a devoted Instagram following, and helped to secure a coveted spot on series six of RTÉ’s Home of the Year, which aired in 2020.


“Our house is constantly evolving and not even in the way it needs to,” she laughs.

“A lot of things don’t need to be tinkered with. Sometimes I just have an idea and I have to get it out and I have to either paint the wall or build something. I’m very impatient when it comes to creating things, I want it done yesterday. So the house is constantly changing just from me wanting to have a creative outlet, it’s like a canvas.”

When it came to designing the new adult living room, Monks sought a departure from her usual penchant for prints and rattan furniture, and wanted to create a streamlined, grown up vibe.

The room is now a chic, upscale scheme decorated in tobacco, saffron and slate shades. Brass accents and generous leather seating add to the vibe and the room also includes a bar that Monks built and tiled herself, along with a stylish seating area planned with comfort in mind.

Her starting point came courtesy of The Space sofa and The Rest footstool from the DFS Halo Luxe collection. “A lot of times what happens with me is that there’s one individual starting point, be it a particular paint colour or a piece of furniture,” she explains of her design process.


The Space sofa from the DFS Halo Luxe range offers a contemporary shape and great comfort as well as an ideal foil for the neutral tones Monks has used throughout the room

This time? “It grew for me around the sofa,” she says of The Space’s contemporary boxy style, upholstered in soft, graphite hand tipped leather that shows off the natural patina of the high quality hide. Its streamlined design provides an elegant backdrop to The Rest deeply buttoned rectangular footstool. A clever piece, this provides form and function, playing triple duty as a centrepiece, coffee table and additional seating.

Making the space accessible and adaptable for guests in the post-lockdown era was also a major motivation for her furniture choices.

“You can fit four people on the sofa and you can use the footstool as extra seating. We wanted this room for entertaining, so we needed to have the maximum amount of seating possible.”

The contemporary styling of The Space sofa and The Rest footstool work perfectly with Alannah’s vintage furniture pieces.

Monks has used a dark palette on the walls and vintage inspired industrial light fixtures which complement the graphite leather of The Space sofa and The Rest footstool perfectly.

“When I saw the sofa I think that really sparked something in me that I wanted something a bit more minimal and a lot more modern than the rest of the house.”

While lockdown restrictions have meant the couple haven’t been able to share the space with friends and family just yet, she admits it’s become a haven for her husband in particular as he has been forced to work from home for the first time in his career.


Deep buttoning, soft, hand tipped leather and generous proportions mark The Rest footstool out.

“It’s very hard to finish work and close the door, and feel like you’ve finished work if you’re here morning, noon and night. So it’s great to have that separate space that you don’t go into during the day,” she says.

As the room has an east-facing perspective and doesn’t get a lot of natural light during the day, it organically morphed into the nocturnal nook of the house.

“It’s very much a nighttime room, so when we’re finished work and finished dinner and the kids have gone to bed, we have somewhere separate to go. It’s only really used Thursday through to Saturday, there are no late nights on a Monday, and it feels like we have somewhere to go out to.”

A love of DIY saw Alannah tackle the wall panelling as well as the construction and tiling of the bar area

Thrilled with the change she’s brought about in a rarely used, unloved space in her home thanks to some clever furniture choices and cool, contemporary decor, Monks says the new room evokes happy memories of nights out too.

“We were joking that when things start to open we should start charging admission, especially as the weather is picking up,” she laughs. “It’s very exciting to think of entertaining people again.”

We say cheers to that.

DFS has been making furniture for over five decades. With every sofa handmade, and a design to suit every home, DFS is Europe’s largest sofa expert. DFS has stores in Blanchardstown Retail Park and Carrickmines in Dublin; City Gate, Mahon, Cork; Ballysimon Road, Limerick; and Well Park Retail Park, Galway, and delivers nationwide.

Discover the DFS Halo Luxe range, exclusively at

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